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Did you know that we would be living miles deep in decaying vegetation without worms? Yes, worms eat the dead plants and leaves that fall from trees to create the soil plants grow in today. Naturally, this soil is healthy, filled with nutrients and other micro life that make plants flourish. For this reason, farmers are adding worms to their gardens.
But how many worms do you need per square foot of garden?
There should be at least ten worms per square foot of the garden. Keep in mind that the population of worms in the soil is affected by seasons and climate variations. Worms are most active during spring and fall when temperatures are between 32 and 86F.
Keep reading because I dig into 3 different types of worms, how to introduce them, and what to do if you end up with too many.
The Problem with “Instant Gardens”
Unless you live in the middle of a forest, worms are hard to come by in modern gardens, especially yards in urban areas. The reason for this is that people prefer ‘instant gardens.’ You move into a house, and you call the landscaping people to come with almost fully grown shrubs, trees, and the soil needed to grow.
The problem with instant gardens is that the mechanical work involved in digging the soil, the sprays, and other chemical insecticides can kill the worms already present in the soil. So, you are left with a beautiful garden at the top but unhealthy soil at the bottom.
Luckily you can improve this by adding worms to your garden soil. Before you do this, though, it is essential to know the different types of worms in the soil.
Types of Worms in the Soil
Three major types of earthworms live in the soil – let’s take a deeper look at them.
Litter-dwellers are worms that live on the soil’s surface, and they feed on plant residue that falls on the ground. With that in mind, you will not find these worms on plowed or soil surfaces without plant residue.
2. Shallow Soil Dwellers
Shallow soil dwellers are worms that live in topsoil rich in organic matter. Besides the organic matter, these worms also feed on the soil as they dig narrow burrows.
3. Deep Soil Burrowers
Deep soil burrowers are also known as nightcrawlers because they dig extensive, long burrows in the soil. They also feed on plant residue, but they pull their food down into their holes, distributing nutrients deep into the ground.
We do not recommend nightcrawlers for the garden. Smaller ones like red wrigglers are the best to condition your soil and fertilize your plants.
Besides the different classifications of worms, it is also essential to know the types of worms beneficial to your soil. There are about 1800 species of worms, and some of them will destroy rather than build your soil’s health.
Below is a list of beneficial worms to add to your home garden:
- Allolobophora Caligninosa
- Eisenia Hortensis
- Eudrilus Euginia
- Lumbricus rubellus
- Lumbricus Terrestris
- Perionyx Excavatus
- Eisenia fetida
- Amynthas Gracilis
How to Introduce Worms Into Your Garden
The best way to add worms into your garden is to provide a conducive habitat for them in the soil. The first step is to keep the soil in your garden moist.
An earthworm’s weight consists of 80% water, and they lose 15% of this water daily. That is why earthworms prefer and thrive in cool and moist soil environments.
Earthworms breathe through their skin, meaning they prefer loose and loamy soil.
Finally, earthworms need their food which is organic plant residue and nitrogen. Lawn clipping, kitchen waste, mulch, etc., on top of the soil, will attract earthworms in your garden. The mulch will also help in providing shade keeping the dirt moist.
Should You Add Worms into Your Garden?
A common misconception by farmers is that you can add worms into your garden by throwing them in. According to agricultural experts, that is not advisable or necessary.
Throwing a handful of worms into your garden might do more harm than good to your plants, and some of these crawlers will die in the process.
Additionally, if you have been adding compost and manure regularly into your garden, you already have a decent worm population in your soil. The best thing to do is keep them alive and healthy to work effectively and increase in number if that’s what your garden needs.
How to Count Worms in Your Garden (4 Steps)
Too many worms in your garden can cause your garden to deteriorate, primarily if you are operating a small lawn. Therefore, to ensure your garden has a controlled amount of these crawlers, it is essential to keep track by counting them from time to time.
We recommend doing this in May or June after planting your crops.
Below are the materials you will need for the counting process:
- 2 liters of tap water
- Hand trowel or shovel
- Mustard solution (optional)
Use a hand trowel or shovel to dig 12 inches on a square foot plot of land. Ensure you minimize the number of cuts as you dig to avoid killing the earthworms.
Separate the soil as you count the number of earthworms one by one.
It is time to add the mustard. The mustard solution helps in the extraction of deep burrowing earthworms. To make the solution, you will need to mix two tablespoons of mustard powder into two liters of tap water. Before you pour the solution into the hole, ensure that it is level.
After pouring the solution, wait for five minutes, the nightcrawlers will have shown up, and you can count them. Note that the mustard solution is harmless to the earthworms but make sure you rinse them before returning them to the soil.
Record the number of earthworms you have found before and after using the mustard solution.
How to Get Rid of Excess Worms in Your Garden
Excess worms mean excess worm castings. While this might be an excellent manure source for large farms, excessive worm castings might destroy a healthy lawn because of too many nutrients.
Luckily, you can remove excess worms and save them for your next fishing trip, sell them to a bait shop or use them for your compost pit.
You can remove worms from soil using an electrical device. This device will send an electrical current down the earth, causing the worms to rise from their underground palace. Once they are on the surface, you can collect them and store them in a jar.